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H.E. Pertti Juhani Ikonen, Ambassador Of Finland to Serbia

Do Just As the Nordics Do

Finnish companies have positive experiences of doing business in Serbia. However, Serbia should exert additional efforts to make the business environment more competitive, transparent and predictable

According to data available to the Embassy of Finland in Serbia, there are 11 Finnish companies registered in Serbia and around 50 distributors of various Finnish equipment and solutions representing different sectors.

“Generally, Finnish companies have positive experiences of doing business in Serbia,” says Finnish Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Pertti Ikonen.

However, he says, the business environment could be improved. “Finnish companies are good examples of sustainable, innovative and environmentally-friendly businesses generating the highest quality products, and they expect the same from their partners abroad, including those in Serbia,” says Ambassador Ikonen.

Where do you see the potential to improve political and economic links between our two regions?

There is potential for cooperation everywhere! Increased trade will inevitably lead to closer political ties as well. However, I see the greatest potential in Serbia’s EU integration process, as it is so comprehensive. The reason Nordic regional cooperation is the deepest in Europe is that we share the same values and rules. EU integration is really about that – aligning our values and rules and creating common interests.

Nordic countries are a great example of how to play for the same team… I believe that companies from the Western Balkans should do just like the Nordics do and use every opportunity to explore how to improve and deepen their mutual cooperation

As regards the strengthening of economic ties, I believe the best way is through business promotion and the continuous exploration of market opportunities. That is where the Embassy of Finland has been particularly active, including in the exchange of know-how between our two regions. Moreover, the Nordic embassies in Belgrade and the Nordic Business Alliance in Serbia have joined forces to share Nordic expertise in fields that are vital to a healthy business environment, such as public procurement, digitalisation and innovations, as well as efficient and transparent administration. One of the key elements of the Nordic business environment is the fact that these countries are the world’s least corrupt, which also reflects on business practices.

What would you consider the greatest success of this year’s investment forum?

I am glad that the Nordic countries are partners of the Chamber Investment Forum. For the first time, we will bring together representatives of the chambers of commerce of Western Balkan countries, accompanied by companies from the region, as well as Nordic companies and institutions.

Nordic countries are a great example of regional cooperation and, as we say, we all play for the same team. Companies from the Nordic region have very similar business models, sectors in focus, corporate values etc. As a consequence of this, they are direct competitors in many areas. However, we believe that healthy and fair competition can only bring good, both for the companies and for the market in which they are competing.

The investment forum will provide company representatives from the Western Balkans with an excellent opportunity to meet Nordic companies and identify the potential for cooperation. On the other hand, I believe that companies from the Western Balkans should do just like the Nordics do and use every opportunity to explore how to improve and deepen their cooperation.